AMC’s adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is definitely not the 1994 film. It’s also not Rice’s book. But it’s also not not her book. That push and pull between “faithful adaptation” and “new characters who happen to have the same names” is pretty fascinating and mostly fun. But it’s definitely bound to be both a good thing and a bad thing for viewers.
For the most part, even when the series strays from the story many of us have followed for decades—from Louis’ story in Interview, to Lestat’s story for pretty much rest of The Vampire Chronicles and so many other vampires’ stories along the way—it still holds the right heart and feel. If you’ve read these books, or seen that movie, many times over the years, you’ll definitely recognize a lot.
But there’s also enough here to bring in new fans without making them feel completely out of their depth. That’s important. Especially if we want multiple seasons and the chance to make even the bizarre AF Atlantis stuff, one day(?), come to life on our screens. And even if AMC is like, “hard pass” to all that, it’s still cool to have new people to obsess over the Dark Gift with.
After all, it’s in carrying their stories through the generations that Louis and Lestat become, and remain, truly immortal. The same, in some sense, is true of their creator, whose words—I’m finally able to actually say without losing it too much—will be sorely missed
“…no ordinary man at all.”
Given Sam Reid’s performance, and even some of the information the series reveals about his Lestat’s history, Reid is even more Brat Prince than Tom Cruise ever was. A hot take? Yep. Do I stand by it? Also yep.
Reid has the benefit of The Vampire Chronicles’ entirety, at least technically, being accessible to the creatives involved. So, this is more of a Lestat’s Lestat. He is, however, still seen primarily through Louis’ eyes.
As he should be. We’re only on Interview, after all. But oh, boy, please let The Vampire Lestat actually have its on-screen moment. I’m begging.
“Louis was a sufferer…”
But, again. Interview with the Vampire is Louis’ story, Louis’ interview. So, how’s Jacob Anderson’s version of Louis de Pointe du Lac? Pretty fantastic, as well.
His story is simultaneously radically different from, just a slight alteration of, and more perfectly in tune with the Louis we all know and love. (And, of course, that “we” includes Lestat, however sometimes grudgingly.)
It’s fascinating to sit there, watch these episodes, and say “ok but why isn’t he more emo” (Lestat would probably choose “melancholy” or “brooding” to convey the same meaning) just moments before clapping and yelling, “there he is!” And honestly, that’s the beauty of the way Anderson and this particular adaptation of Interview with the Vampire make the character all their own.
With the change in time period comes great opportunities for deeper storytelling while still keeping the genuine flavor of Rice’s tale. I’m equal parts troubled by some of the changes, especially in terms of Louis’ abilities, and appreciative of them. It’s clear that the writers took care to make sure the Black main character was equal to, not the subordinate of, the white one. It kind of screws with the mythology, though. And that leaves many open questions about how much we’ll diverge from the text if and when we start to see other histories.
“Claudia broke my heart.”
If I had to pick any place where this series just doesn’t work, it’s basically in all things Claudia. “Infant death,” she is not. Which would be fine if the characterization were consistent or, at the very least, believable in the ways it’s inconsistent. It’s not. At all. So. “Evil of my evil” is probably much more accurate, just…not in the fond way Lestat once meant it.
Recreating Claudia as a teen had so many brilliant possibilities. But Interview with the Vampire avoided all of them and instead opted for…whatever this is. The problem with this Claudia is that she’s simultaneously much older than both Rice’s words and Kirsten Dunst’s film portrayal—while also written and portrayed as if she is still very, very young. And trying to have it both ways results in disaster.
Horrifyingly enough, Dunst’s Claudia was, somehow, more mature. So, condolences to Bailey Bass for having to navigate…whatever this is. For her part, there are moments where she is so incredibly Claudia and hits that flavor—even in her own way!—that are really satisfying.
But sadly (or maybe irritatingly) enough, those moments are the exception. Not the rule.
“I don’t believe I want to give simple answers.”
But still, the series survives on so many strengths. And it’s at its best when it’s like, “fuck it. Let’s make it sexy and hella gay” or “fuck it. We’re twisting that well-known thing on its head,” or even “let’s put this here for the hardcore stans while probably pissing off the viewers that only know the film.”
As for whether or not Interview with the Vampire works as its own series, regardless of whether or not you’re familiar with the source material, it’s difficult to say. That has nothing to do with the quality so much as it has everything to do with loving these stories, these words on the page that said, “yes, you. Outsider, I understand you.”
But I really, really enjoyed watching the episodes I’ve been able to screen so far. And I really can’t stress enough how overdue we were for an adaptation of Rice’s work that actually leans into the obvious, complicated love between Louis and Lestat.
And yes, that love has always been romantic. So, on that front, and on the front of how this series handles race relations in 1920s-ish New Orleans, haters can die mad.
So, yeah. It’s complicated and difficult to come up with a final verdict on the series, given the strong attachment to previous canon and the untimely nature of its release—less than a year after Rice’s death. But, then again, these characters have always been complicated and difficult, as was the author’s legacy.
So, I’ve enlisted some help from Jasmine, who’s covering the series with me, to drop some additional teases.
Random spoiler-free takes on Interview with the Vampire
- That is so entirely Anne Rice’s New Orleans, I can’t even.
- Jasmine: The moment we were transported back to New Orleans, I said “Yes, this is Anne Rice. And it’s taking me right into her world.”
- Personally, I’m super protective of Armand, considering he’s the one main character who, previously, was not at all well adapted. We have not yet officially met him in AMC’s Interview with the Vampire…but there are times when I swear his influence, if not his actual presence, is hiding in plain sight. But then, something will happen to tell me I was a fool for that. And then…back to things that validate my (probably clownish) theory.
- Jasmine: I’m with Shana on this one. I have this odd suspicion that Armand could be hiding in plain sight. Nothing is impossible with this adaptation.
- “Two totally aware adult eyes,” apparently, don’t exist on a vampire who is made at age 14 and then “grows up.” (Sure, Jan).
- Jasmine: I really wanted to tell Claudia to calm down at times because her energy was so chaotic. I understood what was being done by making her have the child-like tendencies. But I felt like becoming a vampire should have short-stopped some of that and made her much more mature.
- They really know how to end episodes in a way that will get people talking, for better or worse.
- Jasmine: Oh, yeah. This series delivers all the cliffhangers that make you crave the next episode.
- Jasmine: Louis’s profession had me scratching my head. But then, when I really sat and thought about it, it made sense.
- Anderson has this one line, at this one point, that had me laughing so hard I cried. Because it’s familiar…but not from him? And the way he says it is…It’s brilliant, ok?
- Jasmine: There are a ton of great lines coming from both Anderson and Reid. They have some great interactions, and watching them go back and forth is so entertaining. You can’t take your eyes off of them.
- Actually got up and flipped through The Vampire Lestat to find the exact source of something.
- Jasmine: Anderson nailed his transformation of going from human to vampire. His personality is the same but not.
- Jasmine: I am obsessed with Reid’s Lestat okay? #SorryNotSorry.
Interview with the Vampire premieres on Sunday, October 2 at 10/9c on AMC, with the first two episodes available on AMC+ that night.
Doesn’t make too much sense though. Like you have an African-American dude in the early 19 century New Orleans. Although not totally far-fetched but very close to it. Especially during that time which is about a couple of decades after the American Civil War. Although they try to make it authentic as possible they’re kind of urging away from rices depictions just to appease todays diverse culture not to hurt feelings in this “how about me how about” blaxploited Hollywood. From new frontier outlaws who are African-American to all century New Orleans dwellers such as Louis who was a French New Orleans citizen is now an African-American or whomever the person is as well as the little girl played by I don’t know who some black woman just doesn’t make any sense at all it’s not realistic. That’s the whole thing about this movie that made it such a great one back in the day, was its realism. Why mix cultures in mixed races in these shows want to make everyone happy and satisfied doesn’t mean nothing. I am not coming from a Racist standpoint at all I think everyone should be treated equally because we are all equal in gods eyes and we’ll always be equal in God‘s eyes. But damn can we at least stick with the novels true sense? Just like how house of the dragon is doing people are gonna say this stuff, but the views will
Reflect it in the long run. It’s ok To have an all white cast during a depiction of a dominantly white point in time. Just like it would be for a black dominant movie depiction. When we start doing this it just looks pathetic and looks unrealistic and looks like the creators of trying way too hard to appease everybody and to embed themselves in the “me too how about me” time. Stick with the story no matter how non-diverse it is. Just stick with the real novel the real characters don’t change the color of their skin their culture and the whole way of things. Just because you used Louis as a black man, who is actually a terrific actor and did awesome in Game of Thrones I will never take that away from this gentleman he is great, but putting him in this adaptation he kind of had a mess with racist storyline. Which I’m pretty sure every article I read had the original point in time incorrect. I seen things from the early 1900s to late 1800s etc.. First off, the original movie “interview with the vampire“, took place in 1700s New Orleans post revolutionary war era. You see Louis move through time showing different centuries, one in the 1800s one in the early 1900s World War II setting and then one in its current state where Christian Slater is interviewing him which is at that point of the movie I believe the 20th century. Let’s stick with the timelines and the people in those timelines not try to mix things up. Very rarely in this depiction with Louis be a black man I’m sorry as well as the girl. Kirsten Dunst played one Hell of a role in that movie and you can chest stick any no-name person in that part just because she has a new different skin color etc. that the masses will approve of. I just think it’s funny how Time to changing and people are just me too me too
I believe this is a “ma’am, this is a Wendy’s” moment. And, frankly, that’s probably where I should end that. But. Well.
You picked the wrong expert to bring your racist comment to. I don’t really have time for this, but I’m going to make it.
First off: The television series is not set in the early 19th Century. It’s the early 1900s, which is the early TWENTIETH Century. Next, Black people existed, in both time periods, in America. They were kind of…stolen from their homes and dragged over here. Glad you got that history lesson!
“…a couple decades after the American Civil War” was neither the original time period (“…and the year was seventeen ninety-one” is on page 5 of the Ballantine paperback edition of the book). So, all your talk of what the historical period was, which you’re trying to educate me — someone who literally sprinkled quotes from the text into her advance review — on can stop right there. The television series itself is also not “a couple decades” after the war in question, as “a couple” means “two,” which would put the series in the 1880s.
…it is not.
You’re worried about “realistic” in a story about VAMPIRES, which DO NOT EXIST. But let’s take a pause here. You don’t think the current time frame for the series — again early 1900s — would have a free Black man, owning businesses? Again, please pick up a history book. Do some research on the Free People of Color in New Orleans and also on Storyville, where the adaptation is set, specifically. Then, get back to me.
“…little girl played by I don’t know who some black woman…” Please 1) learn punctuation, and 2) read the review before commenting on it, as I used the name of “some black woman” (Bailey Bass) in the post. And you didn’t seem to have a problem with knowing Kirsten Dunst’s name. Oddly enough, you don’t seem to have a problem than Dunst was technically too old for the role of Claudia in the 1993 film either. She was literally twice the character on the page’s age, but I don’t see you whining about that. Can’t qWHITE fathom why that is.
“I am not coming from a Racist standpoint…” But you use phrases like “some black woman,” are offended that VAMPIRES who are Black aren’t realistic, talk about “blaxploited Hollywood,” and “people are just me too me too.” You also seem to be fine with all-white or all-Black (so, segregated) series, claiming that those are more realistic (???). And yet, you’re really super triggered by casting that actually reflects the fact that both races exist, at the same time, in the same places! Perhaps you need a dictionary for what “racist” actually means? Certainly, just so you know…that’s not typically a proper noun, but considering how hardcore you are with your racism, we’ll go with it. Yes, you are coming from “a Racist standpoint,” with a capital R.
You’re also worried so much about adhering to the text but…are talking about an “early 1900s World War II setting.” Please point to me which page of the book, which I have in front of me for all reviews and currently have in front of me as I’m typing this reply, mentions World War II. Perhaps you are referring to the very brief reference to that time period in the film, which…is not the book? You don’t seem to be upset, for example, that the film took out Louis’ brother and replaced him with a dead wife and child. What about the part, at the end of the film, where Lestat attacks the boy in his car…Yet the actual text merely ends with the boy mentioning Lestat’s address in the Garden District. The film made many changes, but you seem to think it’s canon and want to hold it up as more “realistic” than this television series. When, again, both are about VAMPIRES. Why is that?
Case in point: You also don’t seem to be concerned that Antonio Banderas played Armand in the film, even though he was 33 at the time, and Armand was turned into a vampire when he was barely an adult. He as also frequently described as looking like “one of Botticelli’s angels,” with auburn hair, and was from Kiev Rus. His apparent youth, with his centuries of wisdom and coldness behind it, was what made him so terrifying…Yet, again, you don’t seem to be concerned about the jet black wig, setting off the overly-aged, completely falsely characterized version of him in the film. I’m going to go with…because you didn’t know any of that. And because nobody dared to cast — GASP! — a single Black person in that film as anything other than a slave.
…which, oddly enough, you made the error of mentioning “Louis as a black man, who is actually a terrific actor and did awesome in Game of Thrones I will never take that away from this gentleman he is great” here. So, to be clear: You can name Kirsten Dunst, but even when “he is great,” you can not bother to come up with a name for “this gentleman”? Hm. Can’t qQWHITE figure out why, especially when — exactly like Bass — I’ve mentioned Jacob Anderson BY NAME in this review that you took your precious, racist time to comment on. Weird that you’re fine with Anderson being “realistic” in your dragon show but not here. (Which, again, sweetheart…Dragons aren’t real. Neither are vampires. Still.) I guess it’s ok to keep Black actors in their “place” as slaves, eh?
Please learn punctuation of things like compound sentences and parentheticals before you return. Those massive run-ons really don’t help whatever argument you think you’re trying to make. Also, again, please learn about proper capitalization, as “Time” has no need to be capitalized here either. And, if you’re asking a question, which several of your whiny run-ons do, please end it with a question mark.
Once you have studied the Free People of Color in New Orleans, brought me specific quotes and references from the text, and even have bothered to check in on what Mrs. Rice (may her memory be a blessing) had to say about the series before her death, please feel free to come have an intelligent conversation. Not sure that is possible, actually, but I’m open to it. There are some very fascinating changes, good and bad, coming up. I’d love to hear intelligent, well-written, and anti-racist takes on those.
But, again, I don’t see that happening here.
Have a lovely day. I’m sure you’ll enjoy refusing to educate yourself, and doing so much mental gymnastics to show how “not a Racist standpoint” your argument is that you forget both basic language skills and the story you’re trying to be a purist about.